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Nov 14, 2005 07:05 PM

beans not softening in my crock pot

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I used my new crock pot for the first time today to make black bean soup. I soaked the beans overnight and then cooked them on high for an hour in the crock pot this morning. I then added sauteed onions, peppers, and garlic as well as a few spices and a ham hock and put it to low. After six hours the beans were still hard and I turned the heat up to medium. I cooked the soup for about 10 hours total. The beans had softened enough but weren't that tender. The rest of the vegetables were like a puree.

I've never used a crock pot before. Did I do something wrong? I didn't salt until the end.


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  1. No, your beans were old. You need to buy them from a vendor who turns over a lot of beans. Old really dehydrated beans will never successfully soften.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Candy

      Candy is right. I find stale dried beans to be a growing problem. Americans just aren't cooking. And when they do, they're apparently using canned.

      The solution I have found is to go to high-end markets that serve serious cooks, so the beans turn over. The right ethnic markets would work, too, if you can discover a convenient one.

    2. I've had nearly the exact problem with black beans. My solution- buy em canned and season the hell out of em.

      1. My meager knowledge of crock pots is that low is around 130 and high around 170. Further, it takes several hours to get to the end temp. So one hour on high is equavelent to one hour at 100 (assuming you started with tap water) and that does nothing.

        As to the varied consistencies, beans really require 180-plus while the veggies you mention will sog-out at any warm temperature in 20 minutes.

        In the future I'd suggest cooking the beans on simmer (stove) for the hour in the morning. To equal the cleanup, add the raw veggies (with the cooked beans) to the crockpot. Or saute when you get home. Sauteing probably cooks the veggies as much as they need.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SteveT

          Newer crockpots are higher in temp.

          1. re: SteveT

            High on my Rival is ~325.

            The OP probably had old beans.

          2. even with an overnight soak, i always boil beans for a little while on the stove before throwing them into the crockpot.

            additionally, the other problem may be the salt content from the ham hock and any other additional salt you may have added (in seasonings combos or alone) to the mixture. the salt will always prevent unsoftened beans from obtaining that creamy texture.

            go ahead and soak them the morning before you leave for work. in the evening, change the water and boil them for an hour then proceed as usual.


            2 Replies
            1. re: wasabi

              America's Test kitchen cooked beans last week, they claimed salt preventing beans from softening was not true.

              1. re: Alan408

                hm, that's interesting. i should show them the rattlesnake bean soup that i tried to make when my roommate prepped it for me and added all the salt at once. they never relented their hardness. i'll still keep it as a hard and fast rule.

            2. Dried legumes need to cook on high in a crockpot.